TeamEN Hang On Ride - Openers for Nationals?
About this Ride
Team Endurance runs a great event on Saturday mornings. It starts off like a nice group ride in the 2.5w/kg range with increases in effort about every 10 minutes until the last 25 minutes when it becomes an all out race. At about 90 minutes it is a great way to spend your Saturday morning without invading too much on family time. With the following day being the Canadian National Zwift Champiinships (and my goal of just not getting dropped too hard) I convinced myself that this would be a good set of openers for that race.
Right or wrong, after setting up the laptop for my wife, I was able to hop into my pedals with a few seconds to spare. I really need to work on timing that better, it’s been over a month since we started Zwifting together in the mornings and I rarely make enough time to get both of us set up. Thankfully, everyone respected the ride leader and the blob was easy to jump into. We rode nicely for about 45km, joking and chatting while slowly increasing the suffering for most of the group involved.
This ride attracts an interesting mix of talent, mostly because there are some race points up for grabs. There is usually 2-3 members of the KISS Racing Team (Robin Zeund, Steve Pomfret, Matt Yankow), a few strong Canadians (PJ, Ian, Rolston and other M1 racers). the Team Endurance folks (Pat and Tim at a minimum) and a few solo artists from other teams. At the base of the jungle, as we head through the arch, the race is on.
There’s not a lot of time to work with, so the first order of business is to slim down the 30 or so riders to a group that is going to work hard on the 8-9 minute climb out of the jungle. An acceleration - pretty sure it was Tim who was being feisty with it - before the rope bridge takes care of this and starts to splinter the group. The second attack is perpetrated after we hit pavement on the climb out of the jungle. This is a common spot to get some distance over the rest of the pack. It’s not steep enough for it to be a pure climber’s section, so if someone punches it and you can jump into their draft you’ll be safe. It’s also one of my favourite spots to put pressure on. Pushing this one over the top whittles the group down to 6 with one chaser behind us.
Scanning the list I see Matt - KRT, Pat an Tim - TeamEN, a solo “S.G”, Gunnar - ODZ and another ODZ chasing. The last thing I need is two teams well represented up front, so we push up the pace a bit to make sure the catch doesn’t happen. By the time we hit the downhill from the top of the Jungle, we have a minute gap.
Thinning the field
Six is better than 30 but I still have no clue about some of these guys in terms of the sprint. As you can see, I’m rocking a feather, which is OK in a sprint, but will be undone by an aero for sure. Better to reduce the field than to try to outfox everyone who may have an advantage in the sprint itself.
The only other area where a viable attack can go is in the switchbacks. Either you pull a Demetre and just power up the whole thing at 6w/kg, blowing guys off your wheel, or you hit hard at the end. I picked the later. There was simply too much race left to just TT it to the finish in front of professional TTers. It worked to shed off two of the six.
This left me in a sweet pink bike sandwich. With four guys, it is hard to really make a move. We are all motivated to stay together as long as there is a bit of a chase behind us. The other complication is that both Pat and Tim are here in the final four. Last week, they worked on Robin and I, attacking over top of each other and keeping us on our toes through the Volcano and eventually into the sprint. My strategy today was not to let that happen. I am fairly certain I can chase down one of them with Yankow if they go to far up the road and still be prepared for the counter attack. So I sit at the back and see how this pans out.
There weren’t any major assaults. Must be tired, or perhaps holding back for the sprint? Coming into the volcano, I put a little stress on them when we head up the ramps. A 30 second attack just to let them know I’m still there and if they have concerns about the sprint they should bail now. Maybe I can get one of them to burn a power up to stay on? Nope. Not enough. Noted, go harder next time.
So we are now into the sprint itself, and the truth becomes apparent that I have indeed brought a feather to an aero fight. Yankow opens up with an aero first at about 400m, being the “long distance sprinter” that ZwiftPower classifies him as. I see both Pat and Tim drop aeros too and get onto his tail. I can’t burn my feather yet as it won’t last to the finish, so I need to get into the slipstream and hold on for a few seconds. At 250m I pop the feather and ramp up the RPMs to accelerate hard. We pass Yankow and I put a meter on Pat but I am unable to get past Tim who has a massive head full of steam by this point - passing the banner at 69kph, compared to my 66kph. Foiled again!
Truth be old, I was probably lucky to get second. It looks like Pat had unclipped himself during the sprint as well. On the plus side, it was good fun, as always and we will be back next week for another round!